American Exports: Altidore's brace the Sunday highlight
AMSTERDAM – It was a rather successful Sunday for Americans playing in Europe, highlighted by a two-goal performance from Jozy Altidore as AZ Alkmaar drew 2-2 in their opening day matchup away to Eredivisie champions Ajax.
The visitors fell behind early and enjoyed precious little attack time before the break, but the US striker pulled them level by muscling past two defenders to slot home in the 48th minute. Less than two minutes later, Altidore both started and finished a give-and-go to put the Cheese Farmers ahead with a precision toe poke past home netminder Kenneth Vermeer.
Shortly thereafter, the AZ top gun put his shot at a hat trick mere inches wide and then was denied an assist when Vermeer robbed Roy Beerens from his combo set-up pass. He would depart the proceedings just after Kolbeinn Sigthórsson knotted matters for good in the 83rd minute.
Next door in Belgium, Sacha Kljestan came on for the final 25 minutes of Anderlecht's 3-0 victory at Cercle Brugge. The win, courtesy of a hat trick by Dieumerci Mbokani, pushed the Mauves to the top of the Jupiler League table.
Turning to the Austria Bundesliga, Terrence Boyd worked a subdued 50 minutes holding an early yellow card as Rapid Vienna reclaimed first place with a 2-0 win at defending champs Red Bull Salzburg. The Green-Whites have now won five consecutive league matches on the road dating back to last season.
To the north in Denmark, Conor O'Brien and second place SønderjyskE pulled off a 1-0 smash-and-grab at Brøndby.
The blossoming midfield ace capped a very active full shift – which included a yellow card – by buzzing the frame with a distance shot near time. Going without suspended skipper Clarence Goodson, Brøndby lost for the fourth time in five games on the young season.
A ferry ride away in Norway, Mikkel Diskerud enjoyed a happy Rosenborg debut as the visitors pulled to within three points of the summit thanks to a patient 3-0 victory at Sogndal.
The fresh recruit entered a scoreless match near the hour, and 10 minutes later, it was his pass that facilitated the winning penalty sequence. Now unbeaten in nine Tippeligaen away matches, the Troll Kids held firm in third place.
Around the league, Hønefoss netminder Steve Clark fell victim near the death as the sixth-place guests were forced to settle for a 2-2 share at Lillestrøm. Before their last minute setback, the Michigan native made three second half stops to temporarily preserve the away lead.
Erik Benjaminsen went unused as Stabæk snapped a four-game losing streak with a 2-1 home win over Sandnes Ulf. Despite being outshot 17-10 and conceding 56 percent of possession, the Blue Ones climbed to within seven points of the survival playoff spot and nine away from a safety spot.
Finally, in 2.Bundesliga action, John Anthony Brooks and Hertha Berlin suffered a tale of two halves in a 3-1 loss at FSV Frankfurt. The visitors led at halftime, but a 50th-minute mistake by the young defender precipitated both a red card foul on their goalkeeper and the ensuing spot kick equalizer.